Following his debut as the wall-crawler last year in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland in his first solo outing as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the 21-year-old actor certainly exceeds expectations as Peter Parker, the franchise reboot references another young hero with spider-powers, leaving fans to wonder how long before that character swings into a live-action film.
While Peter Parker is the original, and most recognizable, Spider-Man, others have taken up the name over the years, most notably Miles Morales, the Spider-Man from Marvel's Ultimate Universe. Introduced in 2011 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Miles took over the mantle of Spider-Man after Peter Parker died fighting the Green Goblin. Following the events of 2015’s Secret Wars, Miles found himself part of Marvel's Prime Universe, standing side by side with Peter and starring in his own ongoing series.
But before Miles, and before Sony and Marvel Studios announced a deal in 2015 to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a push for Donald Glover to play the wall-crawler. Spurred by a 2010 article calling on Sony to cast a person of color as Peter Parker in its previous franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, a social-media campaign sprang up for Glover, then best known for Community, to land the role. A disturbing Internet controversy ensued, leading Community creator Dan Harmon to include a shot of Glover wearing Spider-Man pajamas in the show's Season 2 premiere, which in turn helped inspire Bendis to create Miles.
Andrew Garfield was ultimately cast as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, and Holland succeeds him in the current reboot. But Marvel and Sony did include Glover in Spider-Man: Homecoming, in what was initially a mystery role. Before the film debuted, however, word surfaced of the surprising family connection between his role and Miles Morales.
We see Glover’s character a few times during Spider-Man: Homecoming in the company of some shady individuals, as he’s in the market to buy alien weaponry. Whereas some of these weapons can do some serious damage, he isn’t looking to purchase anything too crazy. Later, Spider-Man corners Glover's character in a parking lot, and his suit’s A.I. confirms his true identity: Aaron Davis, who in the comics is the uncle of Miles Morales and the criminal Prowler.
Aaron tells Spider-Man he appreciates him taking guns off the streets, as he has a nephew to worry about. It could be a throwaway line, of course, or a simple wink to the Marvel Comics faithful, but it creates a path for Miles to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, possibly as soon as the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Iron Man won’t return for the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, but another Marvel hero will step in alongside Tom Holland’s wall-crawler. While many of the initial guesses have focused on a character who's already part of the MCU, like Captain America or Ant-Man, what if Sony and Marvel decide to use the sequel to introduce a new hero? And what if that hero already exists in the Spider-Man comic book universe, has similar powers, and just happens to call himself Spider-Man? Miles has already appeared on animated television and in video games, and will star in Sony's 2018 animated Spider-Man film, so the time seems right for him to make the leap to live-action.
The most obvious way Miles could make his MCU debut is through a cameo appearance. Say, for example, Glover returns, either as Aaron Davis or as the Prowler: It would be simple to depict him interacting with his young nephew, showing Miles before his spider-powers and allowing audiences unfamiliar with the character to meet him for the first time. Television shows do this all the time through backdoor pilots, in which a network attempts to launch a spinoff through an established series. In this example, Peter would be the established series/superhero and Miles would be the new program/up-and-comer.
Because Spider-Man: Homecoming wisely chose to skip retelling Peter’s origin, Sony and Marvel could use the sequel to depict Miles’ backstory. It's true that audiences have grown weary of origin stories, but Miles’ would be something new.
Film has lagged behind television and video games in featuring Miles Morales. He made his animated debut (voiced, coincidentally, by Glover) in Disney XD's Ultimate Spider-Man during the Web Warriors story arc that saw Peter traveling to different dimensions. The reception to Miles was so positive that Marvel Animation brought him back again for more adventures alongside Peter. The upcoming Marvel's Spider-Man animated series is also expected to include Miles Morale.
During the PlayStation presentation this year at E3, Insomniac Games revealed gameplay footage of its upcoming Spider-Man title. Although Peter Parker is again the hero, the final moments teased that another Spider-Man may play a role in its story.
After Spider-Man stopped a helicopter from crashing into the New York City streets, onlookers rushed to the site to snap photos. Before the scene fades to black, a young man is seen taking an extra long look at the impressive web show. Off-camera, his friend calls out his name, and it's Miles! So again, here is another form of media that recognizes the importance of Miles Morales and is making sure to utilize him for story purposes.
Miles will star in his own Sony film, albeit an animated adventure set for a December 2018 release. However, that shouldn't stop the company from teaming with Marvel Studios to bring a live-action version of the character to theaters. The dominoes were set up with Miles' uncle Aaron Davis appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now fans just need to be patient and wait to see how the next-generation superhero can be properly introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In theaters now, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.